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Conservative MP for Oak Ridges—Markham (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 51.10% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Parliament of Canada Act November 18th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to talk about the bill. It is this government that actually has led the way with openness and transparency since we were elected in 2006. It gives me a great opportunity, as I rise to speak on the bill, to talk about some of the initiatives this government is undertaking to make government more open and accountable to the people of this country.
We understand that Canada has always been a world leader with respect to openness. Our first laws with respect to access to information were enacted in 1983, and this government has brought forward a number of other initiatives since that time to make it even more open and accountable to Canadians.
When we talk about the bill, there are many reasons why I will be voting against this piece of legislation. Not the least of these has to be that I look at the sponsor of the bill and wonder if I can trust that what he has put down on paper is something he believes in and would actually undertake to bring forward if he ever had the chance to be on this side of the House.
We know that, when Liberals were in power, they never did any of the things that are talked about in the bill, but I look specifically at the credibility and look back at some of the issues that the member championed or refused to champion. We know that the member has accepted speaking fees from unions and then voted against the union accountability act. We know that this government brought in a financial accountability act, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which Canadians supported, which our first nation partners for the most part supported, because it opened what was a very secretive and closed dimension of our first nations funding.
We know the member for Papineau said, if he got the opportunity to be elected and sit on this side of the House, that he would remove that transparency that Canadians think is so important and that we on this side of the House also think is important. When I look at that, I wonder about the member's commitment to transparency.
I look also at some of the recent undertakings of the Liberal Party when it comes to openness. We know that the leader of the Liberal Party talked about nominations and said that the Liberals would have open and transparent nominations. That is a process that clearly is not being followed in the Liberal Party. We know that in Ottawa—Orléans there was a former contestant for the leadership, who ran against the current leader of the Liberal Party. His major crime is that he actually outsold the preferred candidate of the Liberal leader when it comes to memberships. He was probably going to win the nomination, so the commitment to openness and transparency did not last very long and it went out the door.
When I look at this legislation, I see it was announced last June, when the member talked about bringing the bill forward. The Liberal Party members said that over the summer months they would reach out to and talk to Canadians about it. What did they do? They talked to Canadians through their website. How did they do it through their website? On the website people could comment on the Liberal bill as long as, when they did so, they added their email, name, age, date of birth, language, and aboriginal ancestry. Once people added all of that information and sent it to the Liberal Party, then they could make a comment on whether they thought the bill was appropriate or suggest changes.
That is the type of outreach the Liberals did, and people probably received a fundraising letter right afterward. Therefore, when it comes to openness and transparency, I am little troubled by what the Liberal Party does and what it says.
In his speech, the member for Winnipeg North talked about proactive disclosure. He said the Liberals wanted to lead the way on proactive disclosure, but we know that the Liberals say one thing and do something completely different. We know that it was actually Conservative members and senators who provided proactive disclosure in a very timely fashion.
It was a rather awkward situation for the Liberal leader last June, when he introduced this bill and had a press conference about it. It was noticed by the reporters that the Liberals had, at that point, not provided proactive disclosure and identified their expenses. I will read a couple of things from the report. The Liberal House leader said that they were struggling with the work that was involved putting these expenses online. The Liberal House leader went on to say, “In my view, it’s as timely as we can make it...”.
The Liberals never said how quickly the expenses would be posted online. However, the last round posted for the final quarter of 2013 was made a month and a half after the disclosure. In this case, they were two and a half months late with the disclosure. This is another example of how the Liberals say one thing and do something completely different. They are all about openness and transparency, as long as no one asks them to prove that they are for openness and transparency.
We know that, in their time in office, the Liberals did just the opposite of what they constantly say. That is the Liberal hallmark. We know that. We know that the Liberals will say one thing. If they think the NDP is going to trouble them at the campaign, they will try to steal NDP ideas. They know we are constantly going to be bringing forward ideas, and I guess it is unfortunate for Canadians that the Liberals do not steal our ideas of putting money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadian taxpayers. We know they do not do that, because they tend to want to tax and spend more. We do just the opposite.
When we look at some of the things that the Conservative government has brought forward, we see that one of the first things was the accountability act. The accountability act brought in a number of things for openness and accountability. Some of these things, such as the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, are all things we brought forward after 13 years of Liberal secrecy and mismanagement of a number of different files. That culminated in the sponsorship scandal, which rightly outraged Canadians. There was a culture of secrecy in the former Liberal government, and we put an end to that with our accountability act back in 2006.
There are a number of other things we have done. We championed proactive disclosure. Expenses are more available. Contracts are put online for people to see. There are a number of other different disclosure mechanisms. The President of the Treasury Board has provided an open government program, which allows people to access a number of different files and data sets of the government and to use them.
We understand that when we provide access to information, it is actually a positive thing. The reason it is positive is that it gives Canadians access to information. It gives them access to the information that will allow them to understand what the government is doing and why it is doing it. When we look at all the things the Conservative government has done, we can see that, when it comes to openness and accountability, it actually does what it says, unlike the Liberals, who time and time again have said one thing and done something different.
When I look at this bill and some of the changes that are being suggested for the Board of Internal Economy, I have no problem. However, there is a whole host of other things that are completely wrong about this bill and that Canadians would find offensive. When we look at how this bill was drafted and how the Liberals, and this particular Liberal leader, have fashioned this debate, we can only conclude that it is another cynical and really immature attempt to score cheap political points on something that is very serious.
When we compare it to what this government has done with respect to openness and transparency, we can see the difference between this side of the House and that side of the House. I think Canadians understand that this is the only government that will continue to protect them, their pocketbooks. The Conservatives will continue to make government open for all Canadians.
Ethics November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question.
At the same time, it is the NDP that has been found guilty of misusing over $1 million worth of taxpayer funds. Those funds were meant to be used for non-partisan purposes. We know the NDP redirected those funds into paying for partisan political offices in parts of the country where it actually has no members of Parliament.
I hope the NDP will do the right thing and repay taxpayers the over $1.5 million that it owes.
Ethics November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, all political contributions are submitted to Elections Canada. The member can look at electionscanada.ca to review the expenses and donations to all political parties.
Ethics November 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, as I just said, further measures will be reviewed by the procedures and House affairs committee. It has a very good track record in dealing with these types of issues. Recently the NDP was found guilty by both the procedures and House affairs committee and by the Board of Internal Economy of running illegal satellite offices to the tune of over a million dollars, so I have every confidence that the standing committee will take a further look at this matter.
Ethics November 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, again, this is something that will be considered further by the procedure and House affairs committee.
At the same time, we are very proud of the work we have been doing since we were elected in 2006 to ensure that the influence of big money and big unions is taken out of the political process. That was one of the first things we brought forward in the accountability act. It was the NDP, of course, that was found guilty of accepting I think was about $300,000 worth of illegal union contributions. We are proud of the fact that our legislation helped to ensure that those types of donations are no longer part of the political process.
Ethics November 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, again, just to be clear, any further measures will be considered by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. As I mentioned, it obviously has been able to do this in the past. Of course, recently the NDP's illegal satellite offices were brought forward, and it did a thorough investigation of that.
As the House knows, this is the government that brought in comprehensive accountability legislation, that same legislation that found that the NDP had accepted illegal union contributions. We are confident that the procedure and House affairs committee can get to the bottom of it.
Ethics November 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that any further measures with respect to this will be considered by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. As the House knows, it has a good ability to undertake these types of investigations. Recently it investigated the NDP's use of illegal satellite offices. I am confident that the procedure and House affairs committee can undertake a thorough investigation.
National War Memorial Honour Guard November 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with the hopes that all members of the House will join me in a standing ovation for a very special Canadian hero.
Corporal Brendan Stevenson stood beside and helped Corporal Nathan Cirillo that tragic day on October 22. I understand that today he has bravely resumed his post at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. When Corporal Stevenson resumed his post today, he did so not alone. He had the hearts of millions of Canadians with him who are astounded by his courage.
We shall always remember the sacrifice of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who shall live on forever in our hearts and minds.
By defiantly refusing to be intimidated, Corporal Stevenson is exemplifying the very best of the Canadian Armed Forces. He has made us all very, very proud.
Lest we forget.
Canadian Armed Forces October 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, last week's events affected all Canadians. We are all mourning the loss of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who were both brutally murdered in cold blood.
Make no mistake, we will not be intimidated or deterred by any act of terrorism against our armed forces. Last week, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, gave the orders for members of the Canadian Armed Forces to continue to stand to at their posts as part of the national sentry program. The national sentry program reinforces Canada's commitment to remember and honour those who have served, including in both World Wars, the Korean War, and most recently, Afghanistan. Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent will not be forgotten.
I also commend all Canadians who honoured the memory of both fallen soldiers along the Highway of Heroes on Friday. Canadians of all stripes gathered at the overpasses in solidarity and to demonstrate to the families of our fallen that they do not mourn alone.
I want to thank all of our brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, especially those serving as sentries at war monuments across this great land, for standing on guard for Canada.
Rouge National Urban Park Act October 8th, 2014
I know that the debate is coming to a close, Mr. Speaker.
The member for Trinity—Spadina and the Liberal Party have been talking about ecological integrity. Their position is that if the Toronto Zoo were added to the park, it would increase the ecological integrity of the park. By allowing people to come to the park and look at the giraffes and polar bears within the park, we would be increasing the ecological integrity of the park.
I want to thank the hon. member across the way for supporting the bill to get it to committee. I appreciate that, but I have a comment.
The farmers in this area have been treated terribly. Their lands were originally expropriated by the Liberal government in the 1970s. Many of them were evicted from their lands. Some were given one-year leases that they have been operating on for over 40 years. This park would give them the opportunity to have some stability for the first time in over 40 years. In the past, they were evicted from their lands for the creation of the Bob Hunter Memorial Park. They were evicted from their homes. Those class one farmlands were reforested.
When the bill gets to committee, I would ask the member to really listen to the farmers and look at the reports. The creation of a 600-metre ecological corridor, which will take 1,700 acres of class one farmland out of production, based on a 20-year-old report, cannot be done without evicting farmers.
While I thank the member for her support, I hope that when the bill does get to committee, she will really take a look at how the farmers have been treated in this area, listen to what they are saying, and look at what would happen to them if we created this zone in that area.